|Product type||Die cast toy|
Hot Wheels is a brand of 1:64 scale die-cast toy car introduced by American toy maker Mattel in 1968. It was the primary competitor of Matchbox until 1997 when Mattel bought Tyco Toys, then-owner of Matchbox. Many automobile manufacturers have licensed Hot Wheels to make scale models of their cars, allowing the use of original design blueprints and detailing. Although Hot Wheels were originally intended for children and young adults, they have become popular with adult collectors, for whom limited edition models are now made available.
- 1 History
- 1.1 1968
- 1.2 1969
- 1.3 1970s
- 1.4 1978–1988: The Blackwalls era
- 1.5 1989–1994: The collector number era
- 1.6 1995–1999: The T-Hunt era
- 1.7 2000
- 1.8 2001
- 1.9 2002
- 1.10 2003
- 1.11 2004
- 1.12 2005
- 1.13 2007 & 2008
- 1.14 2009–2010
- 1.15 2011
- 1.16 2012
- 1.17 2013
- 1.18 2014
- 1.19 2015
- 2 Collectors
- 3 Hot Wheels Classics
- 4 Special Model Lines
- 5 Treasure Hunt series
- 6 Live action film project
- 7 Sizzlers
- 8 Full scale versions
- 9 See also
- 10 References
- 11 Further reading
- 12 External links
Hot Wheels were conceived to be more like "tricked out" cars as compared to Matchbox cars which were more city or "real life" cars. There were sixteen castings released in 1968, eleven of them designed by Harry Bentley Bradley. The first one produced was a dark blue Custom Camaro. Bradley was from the car industry and had designed the body for the (full-sized) Dodge Deora concept car and the Custom Fleetside, (based on his own customized 1968 Chevrolet C10 Fleetside).
Cars released in 1968
- Custom Barracuda
- Custom Camaro
- Custom Corvette
- Custom Eldorado
- Custom Firebird
- Custom Fleetside
- Custom Mustang
- Custom T-Bird
- Custom Cougar
- Custom Volkswagen (designed by Ira Gilford)
- Deora (based upon a real custom surf-truck designed by Harry Bentley Bradley for Dodge)
- Ford J-Car (based on the real race car that became the Ford GT40 Mk IV)
- Hot Heap (based upon the Model T roadster known as "Tognotti's T")
- Python (originally called the "Cheetah" - based on Bill Cushenberry's "Dream Rod")
- Silhouette (based upon Bill Cushenbery's custom car)
- Beatnik Bandit (based upon Ed "Big Daddy" Roth's custom show car)
Of the first 16 cars (sometimes called the "Sweet 16" by collectors), 10 were based upon customized versions of regular production automobiles of the era, and 6 were based upon real show cars and cars designed and built for track racing. All of the cars featured Spectraflame paintwork, bearings, redline wheels, and working suspension.
One notable difference in the first-run production cars was a lack of door cuts in the molded cars. This was thought to be more accurate to the scale as door openings would be nearly invisible at that scale. Also, the sharp edges of the cuts in the molds would quickly wear away from the process of injection. Later they were brought back due to public opinion and toy testing on children.
The metallic Spectraflame paintwork also marked out these models from drab enamel of Matchbox cars. The attractive finishes were achieved by firstly polishing the bare metal of the bodyshells and then coating them in a clear colored lacquer, and featured such exotic colors as "Antifreeze", 'Magenta' and "Hot Pink". Because "Hot Pink" was considered a "girls color", it was not used very much on Hot Wheels cars. For most castings, it is the hardest color to find, and today can command prices ten times as high as more common colors.
In order for the cars to go fast on the plastic track, Mattel chose a cheap, durable, low-friction plastic called Delrin to use as a white bushing between the axle and wheel. The result was cars that could go up to scale 200 mph. The bushings were phased out in 1970, and replaced with flush black inner wheels with outer caps. The early years of Hot Wheels are known as the Redline Era as until 1977 the wheels had a red line etched around the tire rim, popular on muscle cars at the time.
The "Torsion Bar" suspension was simple, but flawed. Inside the car, the axles followed a "C"-like shape that was connected to the chassis. When pushed down, the axles would bend like a real car. However the axles were hard to install on the chassis while being assembled and would become detached from the lugs on the baseplate if very hard pressure was applied. Well-played-with cars would develop an obvious "sag" to the wheels. The suspension was redesigned in 1970 with solid axles mounted on a bar of plastic acting as a spring. Packaged along with the cars were metal badges showing an image of the car so fellow collectors could identify each other and compare collections.
Most importantly, they were designed to run on orange plastic track, which could be placed to make interesting jumps and loops. Motive power was by means of gravity, by attaching the starting point of a course to a table or chair via an included plastic C clamp. A two-lane starting gate was available, allowing two lengths of track to be set up for racing. Later sets had both the starting gate and a finishing flag which would be tripped by the first car. One of the most famous sets was the 1970 Mongoose & Snake Drag Race Set, which reached values as high as $500 during the 1990s, but has since been produced in modified replica form. It featured yellow Plymouth Barracuda and red Plymouth Duster funny cars, loops, jumps, and even an apparatus that would deploy drag chutes after they crossed the finish line, all in a box showing Don Prudhomme and Tom McEwen.
Other sets included a Supercharger that had an electric motor and foam covered wheels that propelled the car around a loop of track as the cars passed through. Accessories included a lap counter and a speedometer. It was the combination of all of these ingredients — speed via the low-friction wheel/axle assembly and racing tires, looks due to Spectraflame paint and mag wheels, plus the inclusion of very American themes such as hot-rod designs based on true American prototypes not seen in great numbers in the competition's product lines — that laid the groundwork for the incredible success story Hot Wheels were to become.
As it turned out, the Hot Wheels brand was a staggering success. The series "re-wrote the book" for small die-cast car models from 1968 onwards, forcing the competition at Matchbox and elsewhere to completely rethink their concepts, and to scamper to try to recover lost ground. Harry Bentley Bradley did not think that would be the case and had quit Mattel to go back to the car industry. When the company asked him back, he recommended a good friend, Ira Gilford. Gilford, who had just left Chrysler, quickly accepted the job of designing the next Hot Wheels models. Some of Hot Wheels' greatest cars, such as the Twin Mill and Splittin' Image, came from Ira Gilford's drawing board.
The success of the 1968 line was solidified and consolidated with the 1969 releases, with which Hot Wheels effectively established itself as the hottest brand of small toy car models in the USA.
Cars released in 1969
- Brabham Repco F1
- Chaparral 2G
- Chevy Nomad
- Classic '31 Ford Woodie
- Classic '32 Ford Vicky
- Classic '36 Ford Coupe
- Classic '57 T-Bird
- Custom Charger
- Custom AMX
- Custom Continental
- Custom Police Cruiser
- Custom Fire Engine
- Ford MK IV
- Indy Eagle
- Lola GT70
- Lotus Turbine
- Maserati Mistral
- McLaren M6A
- Mercedes-Benz 280SL
- Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow
- Shelby Turbine
- Splittin' Image
- Twin Mill
- Volkswagen Beach Bomb
The Splittin' Image, Torero, Turbofire, and Twin Mill were part of the "Show & Go" series and are the very first original in-house designs by Hot Wheels.
The initial prototypes of the Beach Bomb were faithful to a real VW Bus's shape, and had two surfboards sticking out the back window. During the fledgling Hot Wheels era, Mattel wanted to make sure that each of the cars could be used with any of the play sets and stunt track sets. Unfortunately, testing showed that this early version (now known as Rear-Loader Beach Bomb, or RLBB) was too narrow to roll effectively on Hot Wheels track or be powered by the Super Charger, and was too top-heavy to negotiate high-speed corners.
Hot Wheels Designers Howard Rees and Larry Wood modified the casting, extending the side fenders to accommodate the track width, as well as providing a new place on the vehicle to store each of the plastic surfboards. The roof was also cut away and replaced by a full-length sunroof, to lower the center of gravity. Nicknamed "Side-loader" by collectors, this was the production version of the Beach Bomb.
The Rear-Loader Beach Bomb is widely considered the "Holy Grail" of any Hot Wheels collection. An unknown number were made as test subjects and given to employees. A regular production Beach Bomb may be worth up to $600, depending on condition. Market prices on RLBBs however, have easily reached the five-figure plateau. Within the last decade, one of two existing hot pink RLBBs sold for reportedly above $70,000 to a well-respected and widely known Hot Wheels collector. The Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles had a pink RLBB in its Hot Wheels exhibit. It was displayed on a single rotating platform, much like the kind used to showcase precious gems. The Hot Wheels Collectors Club released a new, updated version of the rear loading Beach Bomb in 2002 as a limited edition.
1970 was a first-rate year for Hot Wheels, so Mattel came up with a new slogan for the cars: "Go With the Winner". 43 new cars appeared this year. This was also the year that Sizzlers and Heavyweights appeared. Howard Rees, who worked with Ira Gilford, was tired of designing cars. He wanted to work on the Major Matt Mason action figure toy line-up. Rees had a good friend by the name of Larry Wood. They had worked together at Ford designing cars. When Wood found out about Hot Wheels at a party Rees was holding, Rees offered Wood the job of designing Hot Wheels. Wood agreed, and by the end of the week, Larry Wood was working at Mattel. His first design would be the Tri-Baby. After 36 years, Larry still works for Hot Wheels.
Another designer, Paul Tam, joined Larry and Ira. Paul's first design for Hot Wheels was the Whip Creamer. Tam continued to work for Mattel until 1973. Among the many futuristic designs Tam thought up for Hot Wheels, some of the collector's favorites include Evil Weevil (a Volkswagen with two engines), Open Fire (an AMC Gremlin with six wheels), Six Shooter (another six wheeled car), and the rare Double Header (co-designed with Larry Wood).
Cars released in 1970
Cars released in 1971
Cars released in 1972
However, 1972 and 1973 were slow years. Only 7 new models were made in 1972. Of the 24 models appearing for 1973, only 3 were new models. Also the cars changed from Mattel's in house Spectraflame colors to mostly-drab, solid enamel colors, which mainline Hot Wheels cars still use today. Due to low sales, and the fact that the majority of the castings were not re-used in later years, the 1972-3 models are known to be very collectible.
- Side Kick
- Mercedes-Benz C-111
- Funny Money
- Open Fire
- Snake Rear Engine Dragster
- Mongoose Rear Engine Dragster
- Ferrari 512-S
- Double Boiler
- Flat Out
Cars released in 1973
Fat Daddy Sizzlers
Cars released in 1974
In 1974, Hot Wheels introduced its Flying Colors line, and added flashy decals and tampo-printed paint designs which helped revitalize sales. As with the low-friction wheels in 1968, this innovation was revolutionary in the industry, and — although far less effective in terms of sales impact than in 1968 — was copied by the competition, who did not want to be outmaneuvered again by Mattel product strategists.
- Road King Truck (not a Flying Colors model; in Mountain Mining Set only)
- Volkswagen Bug
- Baja Bruiser
- Rodger Dodger
- Steam Roller
- Sir Rodney Roadster
- Large Charge
- Breakaway Bucket
- Rash 1
- Funny Money
- El Ray Special
- Heavy Chevy
- Top Eliminator
The rest of the Redline Era
In 1977, the Redline Wheel was phased out, with the red lines being erased from the wheels. This cut costs, but also reflected that the red lines popularized during the era of muscle cars and Polyglas tires were no longer current. During this period, there was a trend away from wild hot rods and fictitious cars and a move to more realistic cars and trucks.
1978–1988: The Blackwalls era
What happened with Hot Ones in the 1980s for Hot Wheels sent them in the path of what they are today. In 1981, Hot Ones wheels were introduced, which had gold-painted hubs, thinner axles for speed, and additional suspension that most production Hot Wheels lacked. Ultra Hots wheels, which looked like the wheels found on a Renault Fuego or a Mazda 626, were introduced in 1984 and had other speed improvements. Hot Wheels started offering models based on 1980s sports and economy cars, like the Pontiac Fiero or Dodge Omni 024. In 1983, A new style of wheel called Real Riders were introduced, which had real rubber tires. Despite the fact that they were very popular, the Real Riders line was short-lived, because of high production costs. In the late 1980s, the Blue Card blister pack was introduced, which would become the basis of Hot Wheels cards still used today.
Two other innovations were introduced briefly in Hot Wheels cars in the 1980s - Thermal Color Change paint, and rotating Crash Panel vehicles. The former were able to change color on exposure to hot or cold water, and there were an initial release of 20 different cars, available as sets of three vehicles. The latter were vehicles with a panel that, on contact, would rotate to reveal a flip side which appeared to be heavily dented. Variations in crash-panels included front, rear and side panels, the last of whose mechanism has proven to be the most durable.
In the 1980s, Hot Wheels had gotten into a controversy with General Motors Chevrolet Motors Division. In 1982, the Chevrolet Corvette had ended the curvaceous Mako Shark body-shape design that had been in production for almost 15 years, and GM announced that the Corvette would be redesigned. In 1983, Chevrolet did not produce the Corvette, but Hot Wheels saw what the Corvette was going to look like and they designed a die cast version of the 1984 Corvette. GM was angered and almost pulled its licensing with Mattel, but this controversy helped Corvette buffs see what the new Corvette was going to look like.
1989–1994: The collector number era
In 1989, Mattel released collector numbers. Each car had its own number. The cards were all blue, for all blister packs released from 1989-1994. Numbers included went as high as 274; However, these were skip Numbered, and numbers such as 48, 61, and 173 were not used.
1995–1999: The T-Hunt era
1995 brought a major change to the Hot Wheels line, where the cars were split up into series. One was the 1995 Model Series, which included all of that year's new castings. In 1996, the Model Series was renamed to First Editions. 1995 also saw the introduction of the Treasure Hunt Series (see below). The rest of the series included four cars with paint schemes that followed a theme. For example, the Pearl Driver cars all had pearlescent paint. Sales for the series models soared with another program also introduced that year called the Bonus Car program, causing stores across the nation to have shortages. Purchasing the four car sets and sending in the packaging backs plus a handling fee gave you the opportunity to collect the bonus cars, 1 each released for each quarter of the year starting in 1996 through at least 2000. Several new wheel designs were also introduced in the 1990s.
In 1997, Hot Wheels signed a sponsorship deal with NASCAR driver Kyle Petty, and thus began making replicas of NASCAR race cars. Hot Wheels signed another deal in 1999 with five Formula One teams to manufacture scale model Formula One cars.
In 1998, Mattel celebrated the 30th anniversary of the Hot Wheels brand by replicating various cars and individual packaging from its 30-year history and packaging these replicated vehicles in special 30th Anniversary boxes.
In 1999, Hot Wheels Interactive was launched.
A new generation of Hot Wheels Designers came in. Eric Tscherne and Fraser Campbell along with former designer Paul Tam's son, Alec Tam, joined the design team. Many still work for Mattel today. Tscherne's Seared Tuner (formerly Sho-Stopper) graced the mainline packaging from 2000 to 2003. The Deora II, one of only two Hot Wheels concept cars ever made into full-size, functional cars, was also released this year.
In 2001, Mattel issued 240 mainline releases consisting of 12 Treasure Hunts, 36 First Editions, 12 Segment Series with 4 cars each, and 144 open stock cars. Popular models that debuted include the Hyper Mite and Fright Bike.
For 2002, the mainline consisted of 12 Treasure Hunts, 42 First Editions, 15 segment series of 4 cars each, and 126 open stock cars. Popular new models included the `68 Cougar and the Nissan Skyline. Some cars from the first editions series are the Backdraft, Vairy 8, and Super Tsunami.
Hot Wheels celebrated its 35th anniversary with a full-length computer animated Hot Wheels movie called Hot Wheels: Highway 35 - World Race. This movie tied into the Highway 35 line of cars that featured 35 classic Hot Wheels cars with special graphics and co-molded wheels. Another celebrating moment in the 35th anniversary was the creation of a full-sized model of the Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race Deora II shown at the Hot Wheels Hall of Fame event at the Petersen Automotive Museum in Los Angeles, California.
Also in commemoration of Hot Wheels' 35th anniversary, recording artist and Hot Wheels supporter Rick Tippe was commissioned by Mattel to write a song about Hot Wheels. CD singles featuring the song were given out in grab bags at the 35th Anniversary Convention in California.
In 2004, Hot Wheels unveiled its "Hot 100" line, comprising 100 new models. These new models included cartoonish vehicles such as the 'Tooned (vehicles based on the larger Hot Tunerz line of Hot Wheels created by Eric Tscherne), Blings (boxy bodies and big wheels), Hardnoze (enlarged fronts), Crooze (stretched out bodies), and Fatbax (super-wide back tires and short bodies).Fat Bax models include Toyota Supra and a Corvette C6. These vehicles did not sell as well as Mattel expected, and many could still be found in stores throughout 2005. Mattel also released 2004 First Editions cars with unpainted Zamac bodies. They were sold through Toys 'R' Us and were made in limited numbers.
In 2005, Hot Wheels continued with new "extreme" castings for the 2nd year, debuting 40 distorted cars, in addition to 20 "Realistix" models. The rest of the line included the standard 12 Treasure Hunts, 10 Track Aces, 50 Segment Series Cars, and 50 Open Stock Models. Four Volkswagen "Mystery Cars" were offered as a special mail-in promo. Each Mystery Car came with a special voucher. Upon collection of all 4 vouchers, one was able to send away for a special 13th Treasure Hunt, a VW Drag Bus.
Hot Wheels also unveiled its new "Faster than Ever" line of cars, which had special nickel-plated axles, along with bronze-colored Open-Hole 5 Spoke wheels. These adjustments reduce friction dramatically, resulting in cars that are "Faster than Ever." The first run of these cars were available for a limited time only, from the beginning of October towards the end of November 2005.
Also, the continuation of the movie Hot Wheels Highway 35 World Race called Hot Wheels AcceleRacers was created, taking place two years after Vert Wheeler won the World Race. It is featured in four movies and many short segments where the drivers (old ones, gangs, like Teku, Metal Maniacs, the evil Racing Drones, and the stealthy Silencerz). All of the shorts and previews of the movies were placed on a temporary website that was deleted shortly after the last movie.
This was also the last year making NASCAR Die Cast cars though Mattel. Carl Edwards was the last driver to be made from Mattel.
2007 & 2008
In 2007, Mattel released 36 New Models (formerly First Editions), 12 Treasure Hunts (with a hard-to-find regular version and even rarer "super" version of each), 12 Teams of 4 cars each (formerly Segment Series), 24 Code Cars (codes imprinted inside packaging that can be used to unlock web content), 12 Track Stars (formerly Track Aces), 24 Mystery Cars (packaged on a card with a blacked-out blister, so the buyer cannot see which car is inside without opening it), and 24 All Stars (formerly Open Stock). In late 2006, a new package design for 2007 was released. Some 2006 cars and all 2007 cars are packaged on a blister card with the new design. Hotwheels released a series called Modifighters, which are similar to Transformers except for the fact that they were originally cars and were modified into robots. The Modifighters' names are: Streetwyse, Skullface, Live Wire, Bedlam, Nightlife, Mr. Big, and Quick-Tyme.
In 2008, all the series and vehicles were relatively similar to 2007's cars. approx. 180 to 200 new vehicles were released.
In 2009, Mattel released 42 New Models, 12 Treasure Hunts, 12 Track Stars, 24 Mystery Cars, 10 Segment Series of 10 cars, and introduced the Indy Car Series drivers.
Mattel released its first ever 3D CGI animated episodic television series called Hot Wheels Battle Force 5. The US-version of the series was debut on Cartoon Network on August 29, 2009. New Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 die-cast cars coming in stores now. Hot Wheels Battle Force 5 cars included (Saber, Tangler ATV, Reverb, Chopper, and Buster Tank), Sarks cars included (Zelix, and Zentner, Except: Zendrill), Vandals cars included (Fagnore, and Water Slaughter, Except: Riptile and Scarib) and The Mobi-Com.Other cars being released are in the race world series. Also the Audi TT, Bugatti Veyron, and Other Porsches are going to be released in a type of exotic series. A new series coming out is the St. Patrick's Day Cars which include the Blast lane, Funny Money, and Limozeen and Corvette C6, and '69 Chevelle SS 396. Series mix F will include the Meyers Manx, Deora II, Bad Bagger, and the OCC Splitback Ghostbusters Ecto-1.
2011 saw the release of 244 cars beginning with the 2011 New Car Series which includes the Lamborghini Gallardo LP570-4 Superleggera, Custom 2011 Camaro, and the DeLorean time machine from the Back to the Future series. This was followed by the 15-car Treasure Hunt series with 1957 Chevy and 1958 Chevy Impala, 15 Track Stars including the 2010 Formula Street series, the 10x10 series, the Thrill Racers series, and 22 HW Video Game Heroes which were packaged with codes for a computer internet game. The new series "Team Hot Wheels" appear in the late 2011.
2012 saw the release of 247 cars, beginning with the 2012 New Car Series which includes the Lamborghini Aventador, Ford Mustang Boss 302 Laguna Seca, KITT from Knight Rider, and the ever popular Scooby Doo Mystery Machine. 2012 also released two vehicles from the Angry Birds video game consisting of the Red Bird and the green Minion Pig.
2013 saw the release of 250 cars including Stunt, Racing, Imagination, City, and Showroom, all of which contain sub-series. 2013 also saw a change in the look of the packaging cards which includes a quartet of motorcycle drivers standing behind the flame logo and the Treasure Hunt series cards no longer marked with a treasure chest. Some of those cars include: Rodzilla, Fangula, Twin Mill III (3), Bone Shaker and Baja Bone Shaker.
Through the years, Hot Wheels cars have been collected mostly by children, but in the last ten years[vague] there has been an increase in the number of adult collectors. Mattel estimates that 41 million children grew up playing with the toys, the average collector has over 1,550 cars, and children between the ages of 5 and 15 have an average of 41 cars. Most believe the collecting craze started with the Treasure Hunts in 1995. Mike Strauss has been widely hailed as the father of Hot Wheels collecting; he has organized two collectors' events each year in some form since 1986. The first event was the Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Convention, normally held each year in the fall. The convention occurred in various locations around the country until 2001, when the first Annual Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals was put together. Since then, the Conventions are held each year in southern California. The Hot Wheels Collectors Nationals rotate among cities outside of California during the spring. Strauss has also published the quarterly Hot Wheels Newsletter since 1986 and was one of the first to unite collectors all over the world. He also writes the Tomart's Guide To Hot Wheels, a book listing history, car descriptions and values, which is used by almost every collector to learn more about the hobby and their collection.
In 2001, Mattel launched HotWheelsCollectors.com (HWC™) as an online forum to unite collectors by offering limited edition cars, information about upcoming releases and events, as well as chat and trade boards. Each year, they sell memberships to the Red Line Club™, which includes that model year's exclusive membership car, the opportunity to purchase RLC™ exclusives, a priority window to purchase HWC™ cars before HWC™ members, as well as access to areas of the site with information such as sneak previews of new cars.
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of web pages dedicated to Hot Wheels collecting. People are collecting everything from only new castings to only Red Lines and everything in between. For the most part it is a relatively inexpensive hobby, when compared with coin collecting, stamp collecting or Barbie collecting, with mainline cars costing about $1 (USD) at retail. The price has not changed much in almost 40 years, although in real terms the models have dropped significantly in price. After the cars are no longer available at retail the cost can vary significantly. A common car may sell for less than retail, while some of the more difficult cars can sell for many hundred or even thousands of dollars. The highest price paid for a Hot Wheels car was $72,000 in 2000 for a Volkswagen Beach Bomb, a VW microbus with a pair of surfboards poking out the rear window. This version was a prototype of which only 25 are known to exist. The model was introduced into the Hot Wheels range for 1969 with a significantly modified body design, widened to enable it to pass through the Hot Wheels power booster 
Dates on cars
The date on the base of a Hot Wheels car is a design copyright date, not a manufacturing date. (Specifically, the date is the copyright date for the design of the base of the car, but there are only a handful of cases where that is not the same as the copyright date for the design of the entire car.) The date is usually the year before the car was first introduced, but it is sometimes the same year. For example, a car in the 2001 First Editions series called Evil Twin, was released in 2001 but the year dated on the bottom of the car is 2000.
Mattel reuses many models of Hot Wheels cars, both as part of the regular line and as "commemorative" replicas. As a result, a car with the date 1968 on the base could have been made at any time between 1968 and the present, like the Custom Ford Mustang.
Hot Wheels Classics
The Hot Wheels Classics line was an immediate hit with enthusiasts everywhere. The new line focused on muscle cars, hot rods, and other offbeat vehicles (such as a go-kart, a motor home and even an airplane), many from the company's first ten years (1968–78) of production. The series is also used to debut several different castings, such as the 1965 Chevy Malibu or the 1972 Ford Ranchero.
Series 1 from 2005 consisted of 25 models, each with all-metal body and chassis, decked out with Spectraflame paint, in packages similar to those used from 1968 to 1972. Each car had a retail price of about three to four dollars (USD) and each of the 25 cars were released with 7 or 8 different colors. Models included the 1957 Chevy Bel Air (pictured at the right), the 1963 Ford T-Bird, and the 1965 Pontiac GTO.
There were also track sets in similar retro packaging, and 1:18 scale Hot Wheels Classics. The Classics version of the Purple Passion was released with Real Riders tires at the San Diego Comic-Con. Mattel also produced a Classics Olds 442 in Spectraflame blue for the 2005 Toy Fair.
In late 2005, Series 2 now consisted of 30 models including the 1967 Camaro Convertible, the 1969 Dodge Charger, and a 1965 Mustang Mach 1. There was also supposed to be a separate Mustang Funny Car (as listed on the blisterpack rear checklist) but this was apparently charged to a Plymouth Barracuda Funny Car during production.
In 2006, a Series 3 line of Classics was introduced, again containing 30 models with multiple colors of each vehicle. Models included the '69 Pontiac Firebird, a Meyers Manx dune buggy, and the Richard Petty '70 Plymouth "Superbird".
In 2007, Series 4 debuted with just fifteen models. However, in recognition of the 40th anniversary there were two packaging versions available - models came with a collectible metal badge (featuring a portrait of the involved vehicle) or were sold alone as in the previous three series. Models included a VW Karmann Ghia, a '68 Mercury Cougar, and the "Red Baron" hot rod.
In 2009, Series 5 has 30 models. For the first time, there are chase cars in the classics series. These cars feature real rubber tires. A few models included are Copper Stopper, 1970 Pontiac GTO, and Hammer Sled.
Special Model Lines
Hot Wheels has also released slightly larger, more detailed models, such as the original Gran Toros (1/43 scale) from 1970, and the Dropstars line (a model line of "blinged" cars). Also in this larger scale are the HIN (Hot Import Nights), G-Machines and Customs lines. These lines were introduced in 2004–2005.
Hot Wheels has produced many replica scale models in the industry standard 1/43, 1/24 and 1/18 scales. In 2004 They released a 1/12 scale replica of the C6 Corvette.
Hot Wheels also in the early 1990s introduced a series known as the California Customs. A line of cars that had a California theme.
Other lines from Hot Wheels include: R-R-Rumblers & Chopcycles (motorcycles introduced in 1971), Hotbirds (metal airplanes), Sizzlers, XV Racers, Hot Tunerz and Stockerz.
Over the years, Mattel has also teamed up with other retail organizations to produce special models available through those retailers. The list of retailers includes Avon, Chuck E. Cheese, Dinty Moore, FAO Schwarz, Full Grid, General Mills, Getty, HEB, Hills, Hormel, Hughes Family Markets, JC Penney, JC Whitney, Kay-Bee Toys, K-Mart, Kellogg's, Kool-Aid, Kroger, Lexmark, Liberty Promotions (contracted the series of special models for Jiffy Lube and Penske), Little Debbie Snacks, Malt-O-Meal, McDonald's, Mervyn's, Otter Pops, Rose's Discount Stores, Shell, Target, Tony's Pizza, Toys-R-Us, Union 76, Valvoline, Van de Kamp's, WalMart, and White's Guide to Collecting, as well as several Major League Baseball franchises to name a few.
In some cases Hot Wheels dies have been sold or acquired by other companies once Mattel has finished using them. One example were early dies that made their way to Argentina and were reproduced as Mukys, though not with spectra-flame paints or the same quality as seen in Mattel's products.
Treasure Hunt series
Treasure Hunt (sometimes T-Hunt) is a line of Hot Wheels cars, introduced by Mattel in 1995. It consists of 12 cars every year; (15 beginning in 2011) one or two released per month. The original production run was 10,000 pieces worldwide; that number has since risen due to the increasing demand for and popularity of Hot Wheels as a collector's item.
Treasure Hunt vehicles are identifiable by a label on the package. The blister card will say "Treasure Hunt" or "T-Hunt" on a green bar with an illustration of a treasure chest. From 2013 treasure hunts will not have the green stripe anymore; instead the cars are recognizable with a "flame in a circle logo". The cars are decorated with flashy designs and special "rubber" wheels. Data collected over the past twelve years actually indicates the price on Treasure Hunts is rising quite well. Prices from the Internet are generally much higher because regular collectors quote values that do not take into account shipping charges, risk, and inconvenience - all negative factors on the online market.
In 2007, Mattel introduced a two-tiered Treasure Hunt system. A regular Treasure Hunt will feature normal enamel paint and normal wheels like other Hot Wheels cars. The production of these is rumored to be greater than Treasure Hunts of the past. The super Treasure Hunt is much harder to find . Like Treasure Hunts of the past, a Super Treasure Hunt features premium wheels, and Spectraflame paint. All 12 Treasure Hunt cars were released in both regular and super versions.
Live action film project
On January 30, 2003, Columbia Pictures announced they had gained exclusive rights to developing a feature film based on the toy line Hot Wheels with McG attached to direct. Although unwritten, the premise involved a young man "trying to reconcile with his father. It's a kid who steals his dad's racecar and ends up going through a sort of Back to the Future portal into this world, and he has to reconcile his relationship with his father." In 2006, McG said that he dropped out as director and chose to produce instead. In 2009, with no recent developments, the film was put into turnaround, and the rights were handed over to Warner Bros. Joel Silver is now producing with Matt Nix writing the script. The movie will be produced by Columbia Pictures, Flying Glass of Milk Films and Silver Pictures, under license to Mattel. On June 17, 2011, it been announced that Legendary Pictures is developing a movie based on Hot Wheels due to success of Fast Five by developing an edgier film. On July 10, 2013, Simon Crane and Juan Carlos Fresnadillo are name as the frontrunners to direct the film, Art Marcum and Matt Holloway will be writing the film as which is intended to be more Mission: Impossible than Fast & Furious. The film will be released on July 15, 2015.
The Sizzlers were a 1970s Hot Wheels spin off with a built-in motor and a tiny rechargeable battery. (The X-V racers of the 1990s were similar.) They were introduced in 1970 and became immediately popular. Sizzlers run on the regular "orange" Hot Wheels track, and Mattel created special race sets with U-Turns, multi-level spirals and loops to take advantage of the cars' electric motor. Two lane race sets such as the California/8 race set were developed that allowed Sizzlers to race side-by side, until Mattel created the black Fat Track which is three lanes wide with steep banked curves and designed to allow Sizzlers to run free. In action, Sizzlers display a unique, competitive "passing action" when running on the Fat Track, as if each car were piloted by an impatient driver trying to jockey ahead of the rest. The Fat Track sets included the "Big O", "California 500", and "Super Circuit" race sets, and accessories such as the "Scramble Start" (a four-car starting gate), "Lap Computer" four car lap counter, and "Race-Timer" stop watch.
6 cars were made in 1970, 12 cars were made in 1971, and 4 cars were made in 1972. The "Fat Daddy" Sizzlers (oversized bodies with huge tires) were introduced in 1973. Mattel put the Sizzlers on a hiatus after that year, and in 1976 they created Sizzlers II. That next year, the Night Ridin' Sizzlers (which had headlights you could turn on or off) were created. Mattel permanently stopped Sizzlers production in 1978.
Sizzlers were (and are) charged with four or two D battery chargers called the Juice Machine and Goose Pump respectively. Later, the Power Pit was introduced—which was an electric charger that plugged into any household AC outlet and resembled a race track garage or pit stop. A 90-second charge of the tiny internal NiCad battery gives up to five minutes of frenetic run time. It has been said that the 90-second charge time was "the longest minute and a half in a kid's life" as they waited impatiently for the car to charge sufficiently to get back into the race.
The Sizzler electric technology spun off into the Hotline Trains, which ran on track similar to regular Hot Wheels, and the Earthshakers construction vehicles. Both lines of vehicles were charged using the Sizzler Juice Machine or Power Pit.
In the 1990s, toy company Playing Mantis re-released Sizzlers in NASCAR stock car models and reproduced the Fat Track as the "Stocker 400" and "Mach 500" track sets. The Juice machine was renamed the "Mega-Charger" and incorporated a more efficient "trickle charge" rather than the "dump charge" of the original machines. Interest in the Sizzlers line began to increase once again. They were taken off the market after Mattel filed a lawsuit against Playing Mantis. However, Sizzlers returned again in 2006, when Mattel struck an exclusive deal with Target stores to re-release Sizzlers cars, the "Big O" Fat track, Juice Machine and car carrying case—all in the original packaging from the 1970s. As of January 2009, the Sizzlers line has been discontinued by Target.
In 2011, Sizzlers have been re-released as Cars 2 characters, and were sold at Target stores. This line was called Charge Ups.
Full scale versions
Full-scale versions of popular Hot Wheels Twin Mill, Deora II, Bone Shaker and Whatta Drag exist. Tom Meents owns the Hot Wheels monster truck.
- Hot Wheels AcceleRacers
- Planet Hot Wheels
- Johnny Lightning
- Matchbox (toy company)
- Corgi Classics Limited
- Jada Toys
- Hot Wheels Guides by Michael Zarnock
- Diecast Collector Magazine
- Darda (toy)
- Retroist: Epyx Presents Hot Wheels for the Commodore 64
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- HotWheelsCollectors.com article: "2007 Mainline Cars Headed Your Way!"
- Mort, Norm (May 2008). "Red Hot and Rolling at 40". Sports Car Market 20 (5): 44–45.
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- Edward Douglas (2006-12-18). "Exclusive: We Are Marshall Director McG!". Comingsoon.net. Retrieved 2009-01-31.
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- 'Hot Wheels' Director Search Nearing Finish Line (Exclusive)
- Hot Wheels, A collectors guide — Bob Parker, 2001
- Mike and Diane Strauss — "The Hot Wheels Newsletter" — Feb. 2006
- Leffingwell, Randy (2003). Hot Wheels: 35 Years of Speed, Power, Performance, and Attitude. Motorbooks International. ISBN 0-7603-1573-6.
- Strauss, Michael (2002). Tomart's Price Guide to Hot Wheels, Updated 5th Edition. Tomart Publications. ISBN 0-914293-52-4.
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